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Coping With Legal Issues

When I started getting into trouble I became pretty acclimated to legal procedures. Calling my attorney and working out bail was just another way to spend a Saturday night. Unfortunately, the stiffer the charges, the more difficult it was to talk my way out of a bad situation. After so many charges, I found myself slapped with a long jail sentence, and I realized that I wanted to turn things around. Fortunately, my lawyer was able to walk me through yet another process, so that I could make the right changes. My blog discusses how to emotionally cope with legal issues so that you can start living a good life.



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Coping With Legal Issues

What Can Subject You To A Drugged Driving Charge?

by Lillian Wheeler

Although Ontario courts have declared doctor-prescribed medical cannabis legal, many of the criminal laws dealing with the possession and use of marijuana have not yet been amended to match these rulings. There are also certain prescription drugs that may land you in hot water if you're involved in an accident or receive a traffic citation and are subjected to a drug test. Read on to learn more about how non-alcohol-related intoxicated driving offenses are handled under Canadian law, as well as the steps you should take if you find yourself facing charges of drugged driving.

What drugs may serve as the basis for a driving while intoxicated charge?

Like alcohol, medical marijuana and prescription narcotics (when properly prescribed, or purchased by someone legally able to do so) are legal to consume. However, the overuse of any (or all) of these drugs before driving can be a serious crime -- and if you test positive for drugs after being involved in a traffic accident, you may find yourself facing a multitude of negative consequences, including criminal charges, higher auto insurance rates, and the temporary suspension of your driver's license. 

Unfortunately, this can be true even if you weren't noticeably intoxicated, but used drugs a few hours or days before and therefore still had drugs in your bloodstream while driving. This is one of the reasons it's so crucial to be aware of local drugged driving laws.

How is drugged driving tested and enforced?

A police officer will not have probable cause to stop or search your vehicle unless you break a traffic law or are involved in an accident. In either situation, the law enforcement officer may be able to perform a field sobriety test or check your blood or breath for certain drugs if he or she suspects you to be under the influence of a substance. And in some cases, your involvement in an at-fault accident could automatically subject you to a sobriety test.

From a law enforcement perspective, a problem often lies in distinguishing whether an individual is under the influence of drugs and so intoxicated he or she cannot safely drive, or whether the person simply has traces of the drug in his or her bloodstream and is unimpaired. Because tolerance levels vary widely from person to person, one person may have a very high blood level of a certain drug but function perfectly normally. 

However, just as with drunk driving laws, a line must be drawn somewhere. And in many cases, your legal and safe use of medical marijuana or prescription narcotics may require you to have someone else drive in order to avoid criminal charges. Currently, testing positive for certain restricted drugs (even without visible signs of impairment) could be enough for an officer to arrest you. 

What should you do if you've been charged with drugged driving? 

If you've been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there are a few things you can do to help minimize the impact of this arrest on your permanent record.

First, you may be able to offer one of several potential defenses to the drug testing results. You could challenge the validity of the blood or breath test performed to assess your intoxication -- if the testing equipment was not recently calibrated, or if there isn't a clear record of who handled the test results at each point in the evidentiary chain, you may be able to have this evidence excluded. You may also be able to challenge the arresting officer as to whether you showed any evidence of impairment or intoxication.

If you're unsure whether your defenses may result in acquittal or dismissal of the charges, you could also negotiate a guilty plea with the prosecuting attorney. These plea deals generally allow you to serve less time than if you were found guilty by a judge or jury and can help you put this matter behind you for good much more quickly than going through the full trial process. 

For more information, contact an experienced drug offence lawyer.